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The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is reminding anglers, hunters and other boaters who use the state’s waterways to be aware of a new regulation governing the removal of boat drain plugs when trailering.
The AGFC Fisheries Division is stressing the regulation, which took effect Jan. 1, that mandates removing all drain plugs before and during the trailering of boats to and from access facilities on the state’s lakes, rivers and streams. This includes plugs for live wells and ballast tanks.
There are two exceptions to the regulation.
Fishing tournament officials may submit a request to the Fisheries Division for written permission to allow for the transport of fish to an offsite weigh station. All tournament participants must be given a copy of the permit. Also, transportation of baitfish is allowed in compliance with Code 26.27 of the AGFC’s Code of Regulations.
A similar boat plug regulation was in place in 21 other states to help stop the spread of aquatic nuisance species, and the new AGFC rule was part of an extensive list of regulations recommended by the Fisheries Division and approved by the commission in 2020.
Aquatic nuisance species such as silver carp, giant salvinia, zebra mussels and others continue to spread across water bodies in Arkansas, and the AGFC has as its mission a responsibility to put mechanisms in place to slow the spread. The boat plug removal regulation is one of many actions the AGFC has undertaken recently.
The AGFC notes that boaters in Arkansas (including recreational boaters) can have the greatest impact on slowing the spread of aquatic nuisance species to other water bodies in the state. They are encouraged to help by the simple removal of any plugs from a boat that holds water before leaving a boat ramp parking lot.
Along with unplugging when trailering a boat, the AGFC encourages owners to remember to also clean, drain and dry boats after visiting a lake, river or stream to stop the spread of invasive species to another waterbody.
To submit paperwork for the fishing tournament exception, email Fisheries Biologist Jeff Buckingham at email@example.com. Note that certain requirements must be met to qualify for an exception.
The updated Code 37.10 of the AGFC’s Code of Regulations reads:
All aquatic vessel drain plug(s), including, but not limited to, bilges, livewells, baitwells and ballast tanks, must be removed before and during trailering of vessels to and from waterbody access facilities.
Fishing tournament officials may submit a request to AGFC Fisheries Division for written permission to allow for the transport of fish to an offsite weigh station. All participants must be given a copy of the permit.
Transportation of baitfish is allowed in compliance with Code 26.27.
It is a Class 1 penalty for violation of the new regulation.